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Tangled Directions

Tangled Directions

Julie writes...

I see this question asked in various Zentangle groups online and we get it a lot here at HQ.

What direction is the Zentangle Method going in?

My favorite response to this question is, “Well, there is no up or down, or left or right in Zentangle, so it’s going in any direction you want.”

But, as this question comes up more and more, I ponder what the community is really asking and why they are asking? I think this question comes up a lot because of the vast variety of Zentangle art shared online. If you spend just 5 minutes on the Zentangle Mosaic app and you will see Zentangle art and Zentangle Inspired art going in all different directions. Tiny bijou tiles to murals covering entire walls to tangled shoes and tangled quilts. Here at HQ, we too have taken our Zentangle practice in exploratory directions like introducing colors, folding techniques and tangling on different objects. There are new techniques and ideas popping up every single day that can take you in many different directions, but I think it is important to remember that the roots of the Zentangle Method, stay the same. Introducing new techniques does not mean we are abandoning the original method that Rick and Maria came up with that weekend in Western Massachusetts. If you don’t want to venture off that main road, you don’t have to.

I think a good comparison is recipes. Take guacamole for example. I consider myself a purist when it comes to guacamole and I make it with avocados, lime juice, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos, some salt and viola! Guacamole. But, when my husband and I go to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, he likes to get their “Flight of Guacamole” which includes a small sample of 3 different types of guac. They often have a variety of different “flavors.” Sometimes it’s tropical, spicy or with a Mediterranean twist. The last time we visited, the special was strawberry-mango. My friend swears by sour cream in her guacamole and Molly will sometimes use cashews. You can take guacamole in so many different directions with all kinds of ingredients, but the recipe for classic guacamole remains the same. All of our taste buds are different and it’s all about what you want on your tortilla chip.  

The beauty of the Zentangle method is that it sparks creativity. It opens to door for you to try new things, to follow new paths, but only if you want to. If you’re a purist like me, you might be happy with black ink on a white tile. There is a road for everyone. Occasionally, I venture out, but no matter which road I take, I find myself back cruising along that main road.

So, what direction is the Zentangle Method going in?

Well, there is no up or down, or left or right in Zentangle, so it’s going in any direction you want.


Compass Rose postcard available here.

Julie Willand


  • Zentangle is a journey. A journey can take you wherever you want it to. Some people like planned, others unplanned. Some like to travel by air or by ship or by car or by sea or by their own two feet! Some see a journey only in terms of the destination. Why can’t we see the journey as the trip itself? The mindful placement of forms onto a surface by whichever means we choose at that moment is the journey to ourselves.

    Ginger White on

  • Julie, while I love following the many paths so many artists are taking with Zentangle, the simplicity and steps in pure Zentangle is where I can go with ease and feel that even I can create something beautiful. And Carol from PEI – your description of Zentangle is fantastic. Thanks.

    Claire on

  • Thank you for this lovely Tangle Direction and thank you Maria & Rick for the start and basic way :-)

    Arja de Lange-Huisman on

  • Zentangle, at its heart, is a love fest……what it does is create miraculous understanding, peace, and contentment. So, how that result manifests itself is as varied as the human who picks up the pen. Personally, it’s been a blessing ❣️

    Carol Johns on

  • Good Morning

    I love your take on this
    I am new to Zentangle and have become just a bit obsessed, exploring at least one Tangle a day
    And I have decided to think of it as exploring tangles
    When one explores there is no map, definitive trail or time clock set
    Getting from point a to b c and d is quite random
    Even when one selects fragments and reticulas the outcome is an delightful unknown
    With this agenda non agenda
    shaky lines are as welcome as confident curves
    By Opening to what shows up not a preconceived idea
    In an attempt to convey this to my sister a master puzzle maker
    It is like building a puzzle with no picture and in the end there is the finished product a beautiful gift you had a part in creating.

    Carol, PEI, Canada on

  • This is a wonderfully realized explanation of where Zentangle is today. We have the rich,deep history which we owe to Rick and Maria as well as the infinitely varied options open to tanglers today. Zentangle has enriched us all.

    Ella Ann Smith on

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